Aboriginal cultural experiences: Western Australia

From subterranean didgeridoo concerts to outer-space Dreaming: WA’s Aboriginal culture can be enjoyed in some unexpected places!

Aboriginal guide leads tour group in Kings Park, with Perth city skyline in background. Image credit: Tourism Western Australia.  Article images
  • Jetstar
  • March 2022

WA’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture is every bit as varied and rich as you’d expect from a state this large. Its sunny riverside capital Boorloo (Perth) is full of sites significant to its Traditional Owners, the Whadjuk Nyungar. Meanwhile, the Wardandi call the state’s spectacular southwest home. Here are a few of our favourite ways to experience the culture of WA’s First Nations peoples.

Perth

Yorga’s Walk

Traditionally known as ‘Kaarta Koomba', 'Kaarta Gar-up' or 'Mooro Kaarta’, King’s Park has immense cultural and spiritual significance for the local Nyungar people. This tour focuses on ancient women’s knowledge and stories (yorga means woman). You’ll learn about bush food and native medicinal plants, as well as the customs and traditions practised here over many thousands of years. And naturally, there’ll be time to stop and admire those glorious sweeping views of Derbal Yerrigan (Swan River).

Aboriginal guide shows tourists a plant in King’s Park, Perth. Image credit: Tourism Western Australia
There's more to the plants in King’s Park than meets the eye, as you’ll learn on the Yorga’s Walk. Image credit: Tourism Western Australia

Aboriginal Astronomy, Gravity Discovery Centre

Considered among the world’s first astronomers, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have used the moon, sun, stars and planets for navigation, cultural lore, art and more for many thousands of years. Join Nyungar elder Dr Noel Nannup at the Gravity Discovery Centre for a spellbinding session in which he’ll share Dreamtime creation stories and show you important formations in the night sky. You’ll even get to use giant telescopes! A truly cosmic experience.

Night sky as seen from the Gravity Discovery Centre, Perth, Western Australia
You’ll have stars in your eyes at the Gravity Discovery Centre!

Karla Yarning – self-guided Aboriginal heritage walking tours

Get a sense of Perth's Aboriginal heritage and history while getting your bearings at the same time, with these free, downloadable Karla Yarning walking-tour maps. Taking you from the Swan River waterfront to the Cultural Centre in Northbridge, ‘This City is Whadjuk Country’ gives you an idea of life in the area before European settlement. On the ‘Fighting for Rights and Recognition’ route, you’ll learn about the more recent past and challenges faced by local First Nations people.

First Contact sculpture by Nyungar artist Laurel Nannup, Elizabeth Quay, Perth. Image credit: Tourism Western Australia
Nyungar artist Laurel Nannup’s First Contact is just one of the sights you’ll see on your self-guided walking tour. Image credit: Tourism Western Australia

Busselton and Margaret River region

Twilight Didge Cave Tour, Yallingup

With its stunning stalactites and stalagmites, Ngilgi Cave is already a magical place to visit, but this unforgettable tour takes it to the next level. After a guided bushwalk taking in local Aboriginal knowledge about the region, including plants used for traditional medicine, you’ll venture underground. Learn about the good spirit Ngilgi and other Dreamtime stories, before your guide treats you to a subterranean didgeridoo performance. Spellbinding.

In Ngilgi Cave, Western Australia, Aboriginal tour guide plays didgeridoo for two tourists. Image credit: Tourism Western Australia
It’s not often you get to enjoy an underground didgeridoo performance, but you will on this tour! Image credit: Tourism Western Australia

Cape Cultural Experience, Cape Naturaliste

This relaxed cultural tour around Cape Naturaliste starts with your guide welcoming you to Country, before sharing fascinating Wardandi insights into the seasonal flora and fauna you come across during your walk. You’ll then gather at a private Meeting Place to learn about traditional artefacts and enjoy a didgeridoo performance. A fabulous way to get a feel for this gorgeous part of the state.

Aboriginal tour guide shows traditional artefacts to two tourists at Cape Naturaliste, Western Australia. Image credit: Frances Andrijich.
Experience the Aboriginal culture of the stunning Cape Naturaliste area. Image credit: Frances Adrijich